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Publications

Inequitable Distribution of Plastic Benefits and Burdens on Economies and Public Health

Members of Duke University's Plastic Pollution Working Group examine the unequal distribution of benefits and burdens of plastics. They find the benefits of plastics to communities and stakeholders are principally economic, whereas their burdens fall largely on human health. The report stresses the need for policy design to include health burdens to all impacted stakeholders across all plastic life stages and urges the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to consider harmful effects across the entire plastic lifecycle and to apply the precautionary principle when drafting the upcoming international global plastic treaty.

Voluntary Commitments Made by the World’s Largest Companies Focus on Recycling and Packaging Over Other Actions to Address the Plastics Crisis

In a study published by the journal One Earth, Duke experts share findings from an examination of the types of commitments that corporations have made to address global plastic pollution. The authors find that, rather than tackle virgin plastics, most companies target packaging and general plastics and frequently emphasize recycling-related efforts. While many large and important companies are making commitments, significantly more efforts beyond plastic recycling are required to effectively address plastic pollution challenges.

A Transdisciplinary Approach to Reducing Global Plastic Pollution

In a commentary published by Frontiers in Marine Science, Duke experts outline evidence underscoring the urgency of the plastic policy crisis and recommend novel research-based interventions. The interdisciplinary group of authors are part of Duke's Plastic Pollution Working Group.

The Evolving Global Plastics Policy Landscape: an Inventory and Effectiveness Review

Governments worldwide are increasingly adopting public policies, laws, and ordinances to reduce plastic pollution. To date, studies have not analyzed the content of, and trends in, these policies. Employing a content analysis and literature search, we set out to better understand: (i) governments responses to this problem over time, and (ii) the state of the available evidence on the effectiveness of policy responses.

Pricing Plastics Pollution: Lessons from Three Decades of Climate Policy

Plastic is now the most widely used human-made substance on the planet, and plastics pollution impacts marine and coastal ecosystems, local economies, and human health. Local and national governments are increasingly responding by banning plastic bags and other specific plastic products, taxing the use of certain plastics, and improving waste management and recycling. These are important steps, but alone they will not result in a meaningful reduction in cumulative plastics pollution or encourage development of sufficient alternatives to plastic. Additional policy measures are necessary.

Annual Trends in Plastics Policy: A Brief

In 2020, the Plastics Policy Inventory and accompanying report, 20 Years of Government Responses to the Global Plastic Pollution Problem, were published, providing a baseline for the trends in government responses to the plastic pollution problem, as well as highlighting some gaps.

Plastic Pollution Solutions: Emerging Technologies to Prevent and Collect Marine Plastic Pollution

As plastic waste accumulates in the ocean at alarming rates, the need for efficient and sustainable remediation solutions is urgent. One solution is the development and mobilization of technologies that either 1) prevent plastics from entering waterways or 2) collect marine and riverine plastic pollution. To date, however, few reports have focused on these technologies, and information on various technological developments is scattered.

20 Years of Government Responses to the Global Plastic Pollution Problem

Plastic pollution in the ocean is a global problem that requires cooperation from a wide range of groups (e.g., governments, producers, consumers, researchers, civil society). This study aims to synthesize the policy response of governments to the global plastic pollution problem, as a basis for more rigorous monitoring of progress (as called for in Resolution 4/6 of the 2019 United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting) and to inform future public policies.